Best Cat Food for Older Cats
Author: Vicki Smirnova
Vicki S. is a professional writer and editor who adores animals and helps readers get along well with their pets. Vicki has been working in digital media for more than 5 years and has great experience writing content about lifestyle, including pets. Vicki specializes in Dog Feeding and Nutrition, Cat and Kitten Food, Dog Care and Training, Aquarium Fish Owner Tips topics. Also, Vicki headed several websites and worked as a news editor.View all 62 articles Learn about our editorial process and veterinary review board.
Vet reviewed by:Dr. Linda Simon
by Dr. Linda Simon
Dr. Linda Simon is a veterinary surgeon working with seven years of experience. She is a fellow of the British Veterinary Association and specializing in animal medicine. Also, she has been the Woman magazine resident vet for the past two years and writes a regular column for them, focusing on pets and their health.View all 18 articles Learn about our veterinary review board
Updated on: 11/26/2020
There are many foods for elderly felines available on the market, so it is difficult to choose the best one for your cuddly companion. We first recommend you to visit your vet to find out which type of food is best for your geriatric cat and his specific needs.
Then, after narrowing down your choices a bit, check out some of the TOP rated foods for senior cats we’ve listed below.
Our Rating *
Our Top Pick
1. Royal Canin Aging 12+ Thin Slices in Gravy Canned Cat Food
5 out of 5 stars
Price: from $34.34
Best Dry Food
2. Canidae Grain Free PureSea Cat Food
5 out of 5 stars
Price: from $28.99
Best Wet Food
3. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain Free Mature Recipe Canned Cat Food
4 out of 5 stars
Price: from $27.64
Best for Senior Cats with Digestive Problems
4. Royal Canin Digestive Care Dry Cat Food
5 out of 5 stars
Price: from $29.69
Best for Older Cats with Bad Teeth
5. Wellness Complete Health Chicken and Herring Pate Cat Food
4 out of 5 stars
Price: from $29.52
Best for Indoor Senior Cats
6. Ziwipeak Daily Cuisine Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
4 out of 5 stars
Price: from $44.52
Best Soft Food
7. Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult
5 out of 5 stars
Price: from $23.28
Best for Older Cats with Kidney Problems
8. Hound Gatos Grain Free Canned Cat Food
5 out of 5 stars
Price: from $68.78
Best for Older Cats with Hyperthyroidism
9. Hill's Prescription Diet y/d Thyroid Care with Chicken Canned Cat Food
5 out of 5 stars
Price: from $32.96
Best for Senior Cats to Gain Weight
10. ORIJEN Six Fish Dry Grain Free Cat Food
4 out of 5 stars
Price: from $28.99
*Ratings are formed by the author of the article based on own research and combined with customer reviews.
Senior Cat Food Reviews
TOP Pick – Royal Canin Aging 12+ Thin Slices in Gravy Canned Cat Food
Royal Canin Feline Aging 12+ wet food is the best wet cat food for older cats. It is designed to meet older cats’ nutritional needs and preferences. It is created with an optimal balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates to maintain the cat’s body weight in a normal. Aging 12+ Thin Slices in Gravy cat food is designed to promote healthy joints and is very popular with cats. Feeding our top pick means your cat gets to chow down on thei favourite food every day while still getting the balanced nutrition it needs from each feeding.
- Due to the carefully balanced macronutrients, this food will keep your cat’s weight where it should be.
- High levels of fatty acids help keep your cat’s joints healthy.
- Reduced phosphorus levels help maintain kidney health in older cats.
- Some owners report it has a strange smell.
Best Dry Food – Canidae Grain Free PureSea Cat Food
PureSea Felidae Grain Free is one of the best dry cat foods for senior cats. Chicken flour is a rich source of protein. Cats enjoy the taste of this high-quality food, which includes cranberries.
The recipe is developed without grains which may be benifical for those with a grain sensitivity. Thanks to fresh salmon, high-quality fish meal, delicious taste, and simple ingredients, it is a perfect choice for every cat in your family. For cats that may develop food sensitivities, fewer components mean a reduced chance of allergic reactions. This simple recipe consists of just seven main ingredients, including fresh chicken and other whole foods. Importantly, this recipe contains no fillers, cereals, dairy, or eggs.
- The crude protein level is 32%; crude fat is 17%, and fiber is 3%.
- Each jar contains 41 grams of protein, the same amount as a 7-ounce salmon steak.
- It contains 7 simple ingredients, vitamins, minerals, and a probiotic blend.
- Dry kibble may not be preferred by fussy cats or those with dental disease or other oral health issues.
Best Wet – Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain Free Mature Recipe Canned Cat Food
Blue Buffalo Wilderness grain-free canned cat food is a nutrient-rich, grain-free wet food that meets all of your cat’s nutritional needs. The recipe includes a lot of delicious chicken to provide the cat with sufficient protein. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain Free Mature Recipe canned cat food is made using only the best natural ingredients, with the addition of vitamins and taurine to support the health of the immune system and urinary tract. The feed does not contain by-products from poultry, corn, wheat, soy, or artificial preservatives.
- Made with a combination of the best natural ingredients.
- Contains DHA and taurine to support brain and heart health.
- It contains no gluten, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives.
- Sticky feed texture which may cause the food to coat on teeth and lead to dental decay.
Best for Senior Cats with Digestive Problems – Royal Canin Digestive Care Dry Cat Food
Royal Canin Digestive Care dry food is designed for cats with sensitive stomachs. This exact diet is proven to be effective after 10 days. The optimal combination of probiotics will help normalize your cat’s digestion. Symptoms of chonic G.I. upset such as diarrhea, vomiting or regular regurgitation may mean that your cat has a sensitive stomach and you should consult a veterinarian.
- Unique pieces of food in the shape of a ring contribute to slower food intake.
- The perfect complement to Royal Canin Digest Sensitive wet cat food formulas.
- Designed for cats with sensitive stomachs.
- Not suitable for all cats.
Best for Older Cats with Bad Teeth – Wellness Complete Health Chicken and Herring Pate Cat Food
Wellness Complete Health Chicken and herring Pate is an excellent food with high-quality protein and essential fatty acids derived from natural and healthy ingredients.
Satisfy your pets’ desire for delicious protein with the Wellness Complete Health Poultry Lovers Pate Variety Pack canned food for cats without grain. Each recipe contains real turkey and chicken as the main ingredients in the gravy. Each meal contains the necessary amount of taurine and vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to maintain the well-being of your beloved cat. Because the food is made from natural broth, it also helps maintain your cat’s water balance and supports the digestive system and urination system’s health. Serve the food as a main meal or as a delicious topper.
- Chicken and fish are the main ingredients of the food.
- Helps maintain correct water balance.
- The food contains cranberries to naturally support the urination system.
- Pâtè style foods can cake on teeth and lead to dental disease as a cat ages.
Best for Indoor Senior Cats – Ziwipeak Daily Cuisine Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
Ziwipeak Daily Cuisine cat food is one of the best cat foods for older cats with sensitive stomachs. It is grain-and gluten-free, specially made from high-quality meat and offal, and does not contain carrageenan. Your cat will benefit from all that raw meat has to offer such as amino acids including taurine and a good supply of essential fatty acids.
Ziwipeak Daily Cuisine’s cereal-free canned cat food, made with a delicious, hydrating texture similar to a stew, is perfect for cats. It contains delicious and nutritious meat, organs, a little crushed bone, and even some New Zealand green-lipped mussels. This is flavorful and mouth-watering food with a high chondroitin content for the joints.
- It is made from delicate meat and meat offal with a full range of vitamins.
- Uncommon protein sources which are less allergenic.
- An irresistible and hydrating stew with an attractive texture.
- The soft texture can contribute to dental disease
Best Soft Food – Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult
Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult 11+ Classic Salmon & Tuna Entree is made from high-quality ingredients selected exclusively to benefit your older cat. The feed contains high-quality protein from real salmon and tuna. Each serving contains 25 essential vitamins and minerals and taurine, an amino acid that helps maintain your cat’s overall health. Besides, the food is specially designed for adult cats from 11 years and older to get the specific nutrients they need.
- Contains all of the amino acids needed for the overall health of the cat.
- A grain-free formula, made from real salmon and tuna for a balanced diet.
- Specially designed to meet the needs of cats aged 11 years and older.
- Contains 25 vitamins and minerals, as well as taurine-for the health and well-being of your cat.
- Helps maintain healthy skin and a beautiful shiny coat.
- Essential nutrients support the cat’s immune system
- Not every cat will be a fan of the fishy flavor.
Best for Older Cats with Kidney Problems – Hound Gatos Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
Hound & Gatos cat food is made from 100% animal protein. Thanks to the tasty chicken, salmon, and beef this wet cat food provides your feline friend with all of their essential nutrients. A proper diet rich in digestible protein and water helps prevent kidney disease and IBD in cats. This delicious food, designed with the wild cat meat diet in mind, will definitely appeal to your carnivorous cat.
- Made from 98% high-quality lamb and lamb liver.
- An appropriate diet for carnivores that does not contain vegetable protein.
- High moisture content improves the cat’s water balance.
- Anecdotally causes vomiting in some cats.
Best for Older Cats with Hyperthyroidism – Hill’s Prescription Diet y/d Thyroid Care with Chicken Canned Cat Food
A prescription diet is a safe, effective and easy way to maintain thyroid health. Studies have proven that hyperthyroidism can be reversed in 3 weeks if cats eat this diet exclusively. This diet requires a prescription from your veterinarian.
- Ensures healthy skin and a soft coat due to the high content of omega-3 and omega-6 acids.
- Supports heart health by providing nutrients such as taurine and carnitine.
- A complete daily meal with a taste that will appeal to your cat.
- Some report the food is not moist enough.
Best for Senior Cats to Gain Weigh – ORIJEN Six Fish Dry Grain Free Cat Food
ORIJEN Six Fish cat food contains organic and natural fish caught in natural conditions and provides a nutrient-rich diet that ensures that cats are fed according to their evolutionary and biological needs. This grain-free cat food is made from fresh whole Atlantic mackerel, flounder, sea devil, herring, Acadian sea bass, and silver hake in nutritious WholePrey proportions, which provides a varied and meat-rich diet that cats can enjoy. This food contains healthy proteins, which makes it ideal for seniors, adult cats and kittens of all breeds.
- 90% meat inclusions; 10% vegetables, fruits and plants; 0% grain.
- Contains natural meat ingredients in a ratio similar to wild prey.
- Made from natural fish ingredients.
- Had massive recall in 2008 in Australia.
The review found that the best food for older cats is Royal Canin Aging 12+. This wet food is designed specifically for those cats 12 years and older. The formula provides a balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. It contains a blend of healthy fats and glucosamine to support joint health and vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and reduced phosphorus to support kidney health. The food consists of large pieces in a tempting sauce. The soft texture makes it easier for older cats with sensitive teeth and gums to eat.
When is a Cat Considered a Senior?
RELATED ARTICLE: Signs your cat getting old
Feed manufacturers typically divide a cats’ life cycle into three stages: kitten, adults, and senior. This is done to ensure cats are provided with the appropriate nutrition for each life stage. The average life span of a cat is in the range of 13-16 years depending on breed and lifestyle. According to several studies, cats become seniors between the ages of 7 and 10, though the exact figures vary depending on the source. However, do not assume that all cats are the same; they, like people, might be healthy and active well into their teens or get old before their time. Naturally, if a cat has a chronic health condition, they tend to age a lot quicker and may be classified as seniors before their time. Similarly, female cats who have many litters and un-neutered males who live outside often seem to age quicker. It’s worth saying that if your vet has prescribed a diet for health reasons, this may not be tailored to the cat’s age.
When a cat reaches the age of 7-10 years, it may show the following changes in its body and behavior:
- Reduced ability to digest certain ingredients;
- Reduced sense of smell;
- Reduced kidney performance;
- Dental decay and/or gingivitis;
- Reduced physical activity of the cat, which can lead to weight gain;
To ensure you are feeding the most appropriate diet for your senior cat
s, first of all, you need to consult a veterinarian for a general health check.
It is also recommended to buy food designated for “Senior Cats” or “For cats older than 7 years”.
You can continue to feed your cat kibble, but due to possible problems with their teeth, they may find it difficult to crack the dry food pellets, which could result in tentative eating, the food being swallowed whole or complete refusal to eat. To check if this is happening, you should observe your elderly cat’s meals. If they appear to be struggling, it may well be time for dental treatment with the vet. In the meantime, offering wet food or mixing their kibble with warm water to soften it may help. Adding water will increase the feed’s moisture content, which can be beneficial for those with chronic kidney disease.
Nutritional Requirements for Elderly Cats
While different sources will advise feeding senior food at different ages, the general consensus advises that this is done at about 10 years of age for neutered cats.
Certain breeds or cats with obvious signs of premature aging or chronic health problems may need to be transferred to a senior diet from as early as 7 years old.
Remember that after neutering a cat, they will generally become less active and their metabolism may slow, meaning that they should be transferred to a lower calorie food at this stage.
So, which is the best senior cat food and why feed it?
It’s very simple. Kittens and young, active cats need more protein and carbohydrates to build muscle fibers and store energy, while older cats do not need to consume large amounts of protein and carbohydrates. In fact, feeding older cats too much protein and carbohydrates will mean they store their food as fat reserves due to lower calorie demands and reduced physical activity.
In some cases, senior cats may develop a smaller appetite and, in this case, it can be useful to offer a senior food with higher calorie content. If cats also experience other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea or weight loss they should be examined for a medical issue.
How to choose the Right Food for Older Cats
First, you ideally need to consult your veterinarian, since each case is individual and only a specialist can tell you the most appropriate feed for your furry friend.
Food for elderly cats should be balanced in protein, fat, and carbohydrates to maintain weight, prevent the rapid gain of fat mass and to prevent muscle loss due to lack of physical activity.
- Ensuring the Calcium and Phosphorous provided are adequate is important as inappropriate amounts can result in renal disease and poor bone health.
- Protein should be high quality and digestible but not in excess amounts, which could be hard for the kidneys to cope with.
- Providing all of the necessary micronutrients helps to ensure a functioning immune system and prevent diesase.
Some old cats are reluctant to consume the necessary food, which is often due to the presence of chronic diseases and/or diseases of the gums or teeth. As a result of which, the cat’s body does not receive the necessary nutrients and trace minerals. In this case, the first thing to do is to have the cat examined to determine the underlying issue. This will typically entail a vet check and possibly some blood tests. In some cases, offering the cat a mixture of wet and dry food or completely transferring it to a wet food can improve their appetite.
Higher quality and premium senior cat foods should contain a plethora of vitamins and minerals, as well as ingredients such as chondroitin and glucosamine. Provision of the right micronutrients can aid digestion, maintain the body’s protective functions in a normal state, and even slow down the natural aging processes.
When prescribing a diet, the veterinarian pays attention to the following aspects:
- Presence of any chronic diseases;
- The general physical condition of the cat;
- Individual characteristics and lifestyle;
- A cat’s preference for flavours, textures and wet vs dry food
Based on these points, the veterinarian can determine the most appropriate diet for your senior cat.
Tips for Feeding and Caring for a Senior Cat
Feeding elderly cats is similar to feeding young and adult cats; we must porvide constant fresh water and a clean bowl of food at regular intervals. Senior cats sometimes need a little more persuasion to eat than their counterparts, which may mean a wet diet and providing highly palatable food.
Careful selection of the right diet for older cat leads to:
- good health and normal body weight of a cat;
- slowing down of natural aging processes;
- prevention of chronic diseases;
- better management of the chronic disease.
A well-chosen diet with a balanced amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, and other useful substances for your elderly cat will significantly improve your pet’s quality of life and extend the time of its happy life with its owner.
Cats are usually experts at eating as much food as they need. However, if you notice that your cat eats too little food and begins to lose weight, you may need to use a more saturated and high-calorie food. You can also stimulate the cat’s appetite with activities, games, and various treats.  Be mindful that any unexpected appetite or weight change should be investigated by a vet.
READ MORE: Adopting Older Cat
What Not to Feed Senior Cats
With age and natural aging processes, the cat’s teeth and gums may weaken, and it will be difficult, and sometimes even painful, to eat solid food, bones, and dry food.
However, dry food helps to get rid of plaque and tartar, so you can mix dry and wet food and periodically include them in an elderly cat’s diet where appropriate. When switching to a diet consisting of wet food, the cat’s mouth should be examined regularly by a veterinarian for plaque or tartar formations as they generally occur with more frequency.
You should not give an elderly cat fish bones or meat bones.
Fish bones can get stuck in the gums and cause not only the cat but also their owner a lot of trouble and could possibly result in a high vet bill. Chicken or other bones can be painful for the cat to chew, and sharp pieces of bone can also scratch and damage an elderly cat’s gums and fracture teeth. On top of this, they can lodge in the food pipe, stomach or gut and cause a serious intestinal obstruction.
Inappropriate and poor quality diets can negatively affect the digestive tract and physical state of cats, with the elderly often being worst affected. Ingredients that are toxic for cats of all ages include grapes and raisins, onions and garlic, chocolate, and caffeine-containing products.
If an elderly cat consumes any of these ingredients, you should immediately seek help from a veterinarian, so you can ensure they remain well.
At what age should a cat eat senior food?
The age you should feed your cat a diet formulated for seniors is dependent on a number of factors that a veterinarian can help you understand. However, based on the observations of owners and research by veterinarians, the average age for switching to special feed for the elderly is in the range of 7 to 10 years.
Cats who were once strays, who have had multiple litters and who suffer from ill health can age quicker.
As a rule of thumb, neutered cats can be transferred to a senior diet from 10 years of age.
What is the difference between senior and regular cat food?
Specialized food for elderly cats differs from regular food with its lower calorie content and specific content of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids for the proper functioning of the older cat’s digestive system, its internal organs, and its immune system.
How much should I feed my Senior Cat?
How much food is needed by an older cat?
The amount of food consumed by an elderly cat is a purely individual figure, as it depends on several factors:
- Presence of chronic disease;
- Physiological state of the cat;
- Whether the cat is under or over weight;
- A cat’s activity levels;
- Whether the cat is an indoor or outdoor cat;
- Whether or not the cat has been neutered.
How to make a cat’s food softer for a senior cat?
To soften cat food, you can resort to mixing dry food and wet food or switch entirely to a diet of wet food.
You could also add a tablespoon of warm water to a bowl of dry food and mix the food, as a result of which the pellets of dry food will be saturated with moisture and become a little softer, making it easier for the cat to bite into them. This also results in the production of a meaty gravy, which your older cat will certainly appreciate.
- Elderly Cats – Special Considerations | International Cat Care. 30 July 2018, icatcare.org/advice/elderly-cats-special-considerations/.
- The Special Needs of the Senior Cat | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/special-needs-senior-cat.
- “Orijen Pet Food Recall History (Fully Updated, Constantly Monitored).” Petful, 9 Nov. 2020, petful.com/brands/orijen/.
- Signs Your Cat Is Getting Old—ROYAL CANIN ® – Royal Canin. 23 July 2020, royalcanin.com/us/cats/health-and-wellbeing/how-old-age-affects-cats.
- Behavior Changes in Aging Cats. pets.webmd.com/cats/guide/aging-cat-behavior
ThePets is an informational website that features articles written by qualified veterinarians and professional writers. You can learn more about our editorial process. When selecting food for your pet, use Pet Food Finder, and search for the clinic to treat your pet using Vet Clinics Locator.
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